On one level, the new Home Alone movie has a lot to live up to. The first two films are still so beloved that Macaulay Culkin charmed the internet a few years ago by playing a grown-up Kevin McCallister in a Google Assistant holiday ad. But on another, the bar isn’t quite as high as it should be because the franchise has already been slightly tarnished by cheap sequels. Who even remembers Home Alone: The Holiday Heist, a 2012 TV movie that apparently featured A Clockwork Orange‘s Malcolm McDowell as one of the baddies?
This reboot-slash-remake – it’s billed as “based on” 1990’s Home Alone and gives creator John Hughes a story credit – certainly doesn’t lack talent. It’s directed by regular Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Dan Mazer and has a cast stacked with familiar comedy actors: not just Catastrophe‘s Rob Delaney and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Ellie Kemper, but also SNL‘s Kenan Thompson and This Way Up‘s Aisling Bea. It’s a shame, then, that the interior sets look a little fake and sitcom-like. They just don’t conjure up as much festive cheer as the McCallister house from the first two movies.
On a more positive note, Mazer smartly casts Jojo Rabbit‘s Archie Yates in the lead role and lets him use his British accent, which helps to minimise comparisons with Culkin. In this Home Alone outing, 12-year-old Max Mercer (Yates) is left behind when his parents (Bea and Pete Holmes) and their sprawling family jet off to Tokyo. His adversaries aren’t greedy thieves like Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern’s Harry and Marv, but a local couple whose motivation for breaking into the house is fundamentally well-meaning. Jeff and Pam Fritzovski (Delaney and Kemper) believe Max has stolen a priceless heirloom that they need to sell to save their own family home. They’re not really criminals, but they resolve to break in over Christmas to retrieve what is rightfully theirs.
This softens the film’s sense of threat, but once their battle royale with Max begins, they’re still pelted with everything from snooker balls to thumbtacks and a falling light fitting. After a rather protracted start, it’s here that Home Sweet Home Alone really sparks into life, thanks largely to Delaney’s slick comic timing and Kemper’s gift for slapstick. A sequence in which her character keeps slipping on an icy driveway is a masterclass in physical comedy. There are also some nicely-judged nods to the original film including a satisfying cameo from Devin Ratray, who played Kevin’s older brother Buzz. This isn’t enough to make Home Sweet Home Alone a must-watch, but it does mean fans of the franchise should probably persevere through the sluggish first half. This film is perhaps best enjoyed on Boxing Day afternoon with a full stomach and a full glass of eggnog – Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals.
- Director: Dan Mazer
- Starring: Archie Yates, Aisling Bea, Rob Delaney
- Release date: November 12 (Disney+)